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Attorney Renee C. Walsh

Interstate Compact for Juveniles

The Interstate Compact for Juveniles has been adopted by all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Guam, and the Virgin Islands.


The goal of the compact is to manage, monitor, and supervise the return of juveniles, delinquents and status offenders on probation or parole and who have absconded, escaped or run away from the supervision and control of the state where they were sentenced. The compact also addresses the safe return of juveniles who have run away from their home state of residence. The compact provides for the cooperation among states for the return of juveniles who are not under proper supervision and control, or who have absconded, escaped or run away, are likely to endanger their own health, morals and welfare, and the health, morals and welfare of others.

The goal of the compact is to provide for the welfare and protection of juveniles and of the public with respect to (1) cooperative supervision of delinquent juveniles on probation or parole; (2) the return, from one state to another, of delinquent juveniles who have escaped or absconded; (3) the return, from one state to another, of non-delinquent juveniles who have run away from home; and (4) additional measures for the protection of juveniles and of the public, which any two or more of the party states may find desirable to undertake cooperatively. In carrying out the provisions of the compact, participating states are guided by noncriminal, reformative and protective policies, and liberally construe the compact provisions to accomplish its purposes.

There is a provision specifically for the return of runaways providing that the parent, guardian, person or agency entitled to legal custody of a juvenile who has not been adjudged delinquent but who has run away without the consent of such parent, guardian, person or agency may petition the appropriate court in the demanding state for the issuance of a requisition for the juvenile’s return. The petition shall state the name and age of the juvenile, the name of the petitioner and the basis of entitlement to the juvenile’s custody, the circumstances of the juvenile’s running away, the juvenile’s location if known at the time application is made, and such other facts as may tend to show that the juvenile who has run away is endangering the juvenile’s own welfare or the welfare of others and is not an emancipated minor. The petition shall be verified by affidavit, shall be executed in duplicate, and shall be accompanied by two certified copies of the document or documents on which the petitioner’s entitlement to the juvenile’s custody is based, such as birth certificates, letters of guardianship, or custody decrees. Such further affidavits and other documents as may be deemed proper may be submitted with such petition. The judge of the court to which this application is made may hold a hearing thereon to determine whether for the purposes of this compact the petitioner is entitled to the legal custody of the juvenile, whether or not it appears that the juvenile has in fact run away without consent, whether or not the juvenile is an emancipated minor, and whether or not it is in the best interest of the juvenile to compel his or her return to the state.

If the judge determines, either with or without a hearing, that the juvenile should be returned, the judge shall present to the appropriate court or to the executive authority of the state where the juvenile is alleged to be located a written requisition for the return of such juvenile. Such requisition shall set forth the name and age of the juvenile, the determination of the court that the juvenile has run away without the consent of a parent, guardian, person or agency entitled to the juvenile’s legal custody, and that it is in the best interest and for the protection of such juvenile that he or she is returned.

In the event that a proceeding for the adjudication of the juvenile as a delinquent, neglected or dependent juvenile is pending in the court at the time when such juvenile runs away, the court may issue a requisition for the return of such juvenile upon its own motion, regardless of the consent of the parent, guardian, person or agency entitled to legal custody, reciting therein the nature and circumstances of the pending proceeding. The requisition shall in every case be executed in duplicate and shall be signed by the judge. One copy of the requisition shall be filed with the compact administrator of the demanding state, there to remain on file subject to the provisions of law governing records of such court.

Upon the receipt of a requisition demanding the return of a juvenile who has run away, the court or the executive authority to whom the requisition is addressed shall issue an order to any peace officer or other appropriate person directing him or her to take into custody and detain such juvenile. Such detention order must substantially recite the facts necessary to the validity of its issuance hereunder.

No juvenile detained upon such order shall be delivered over to the officer whom the court demanding the juvenile shall have appointed to receive him or her, unless the juvenile shall first be taken forthwith before a judge of a court in the state, who shall inform the juvenile of the demand made for his or her return, and who may appoint counsel or guardian ad litem for the juvenile.

If the judge of such court shall find that the requisition is in order, the judge shall deliver such juvenile over to the officer whom the court demanding the juvenile shall have appointed to receive him or her. The judge, however, may fix a reasonable time to be allowed for the purpose of testing the legality of the proceeding.

Upon reasonable information that a person is a juvenile (under age 17 in Michigan) who has run away from another state party to the compact without the consent of a parent, guardian, person or agency entitled to the juvenile’s legal custody, such juvenile may be taken into custody without a requisition and brought forthwith before a judge of the appropriate court who may appoint counsel or guardian ad litem for such juvenile and who shall determine after a hearing whether sufficient cause exists to hold the person, subject to the order of the court, for the person’s own protection and welfare, for such a time not exceeding 90 days as will enable the person’s return to another state party to the compact pursuant to a requisition for the person’s return from a court of that state.

If, at the time when a state seeks the return of a juvenile who has run away, there is pending in the state wherein the juvenile is found any criminal charge, or any proceeding to have the juvenile adjudicated a delinquent juvenile for an act committed in such state, or if the juvenile is suspected of having committed within such state a criminal offense or an act of juvenile delinquency, he or she shall not be returned without the consent of such state until discharged from prosecution or other form of proceeding, imprisonment, detention or supervision for such offense or juvenile delinquency. The duly accredited officers of any state party to the compact, upon the establishment of their authority and the identity of the juvenile being returned, shall be permitted to transport such juvenile through any and all states party to this compact, without interference. Upon the juvenile’s return to the state from which he or she ran away, the juvenile shall be subject to such further proceedings as may be appropriate under the laws of that state.

Practical Information:

A teenager who leaves the state of their parent or guardian’s residence should cooperate if the police or authorities ever become involved. If a petition is filed for their return to their parents’ state of residence, they could be taken into custody so that they can be brought before a judge. According to the compact, there is a policy that no juvenile shall be placed or detained in any prison, jail or lockup so “taken into custody” should mean that they will be brought to an informal setting where they will await their hearing. If a teenager leaves the state, they should keep in touch with their family, attend school, get a job, and be otherwise responsible and establish ties to the community. This will be necessary to lay a foundation for their defense should it be necessary to do so int he future. It may be necessary to defend in the situation where the teen’s parents petition the court for an order for the teen’s return to the parents’ state of residence. If this happens, the teen will be notified and will have an opportunity to request a court appointed attorney, and to assert why it is not in their best interests to return to the parents’ state of residence. The teen will discuss their family history and present circumstances with their attorney. They will likely object to the requisition, put on evidence of why it is not in their best interests to be with their parent, counter allege abuse or neglect where applicable, and will consider filing a petition for emancipation or for guardianship. If it is truly in the teen’s best interests to be where they have chosen, things should shape up in their favor especially if they are an older teen or approaching age 18.


This article was originally published on July 18, 2009. It has been revised and republished on August 29, 2014.


  1. My son is 17 and on probation. He was taken into DHS custody last October. He was recently at a group home which he despised and ran away. He turns 18 in January and his plan is to stay away until that time then return and attend college. Is he still going to be sought after when he return.

    • Dear James R.:

      Failure to complete probation usually results in a show-cause order and a notice to appear in court. The defendant is called into court to prove why he should not be held in contempt. If he fails to appear, then a warrant will be issued. “Staying away” merely extends the time the matter is unresolved.

  2. I called the police on my 17-year-old son when he had threatened to harm me. He is a very big boy. This is not his normal behavior. He was recently pulled off of one med and put onto another new one for bipolar. He went to juvenile detention and now has a guardian ad litem. She wants to pretty much take him from me and destroy him. She has gotten the judge to keep him detained and told me that if I interfere or try to get him back home that she will see to it that my parental rights are taken away. While in here he is getting a GED. Do they have the right over his education? I knew nothing of this until he told me. I can’t afford an attorney and really need help.

    • Dear Jody:

      Calling the police on your son was your way of asking for help with him. He is going to be an adult soon and must find his own way. The guardian ad litem will likely set him up with a structured program in which he can learn and grow with proper oversight. Show that you are not going to back down by staying involved in his life in a positive way. Work positively with the GAL and the court. You will see positive results.

  3. I am a mother of a 17 disabled child. I have custody and guardianship. My son attends a special school and has special transportation. My son suffers from Bi-polar, Asperger’s, brain damage, mild MR, ADHD, ODD, LD, emotionally disturbed. In June, my son went to his fathers in Missouri for visitation. James was due to return to me on August 8th to Kansas where he lives with me. While visiting his father in Missouri, he ran away. I have had trouble getting my son back home with me. The city police in Chillicothe, Mo. refuse to pick my child up and detain him so that I can go get him and bring him home. They have told me that if I come and get him and he does not want to go with me then they will arrest me for taking him across state line to Kansas. They are saying he is an adult at 17 in Missouri. He is a runaway. I have legal custody and guardianship. He is on disability and not on his meds because they refuse to allow me to get my son. I have filed a missing persons report and runaway report. I was awarded guardianship. I have also filed a foreign judgment in Missouri and had it filed and registered. The city police there still refuse to detain my son. I have had police officers, detectives, attorneys as well as the Kansas attorney general call and tell them that I have done everything legal and have my son returned to me. They still refuse. I have had his health care providers send papers to the police department stating all of his disabilities and that he needed to be in a structured environment and sent home to his mother. Still they refuse. I have also had his health care and mental health treaters provide papers stating that without his meds that he could possibly pose a threat to himself and others as well as they did not feel that he was capable of taking care of himself or competent of making his own decisions, yet still they refuse. He is a runaway and entered into the system. The juvenile office in Chillicothe said they would be happy to assist me in detaining my son. The city police when told to by the juvenile office to pick him up again refused. All I want is for my son to come home. I will not give up.